When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your spouse?
Not just cliche conversation talking about the weather or the logistics of who’s going to take or pick up the kids from football and dance, but a REAL conversation.
You know, the type of conversation that you used to have in the early days of your relationship. Conversation where hours seemed like minutes. A conversation that left you feeling known, heard, and secure. Conversation that led to sparks flying…in a good way!
Let’s face it. These types of conversations “just happened” and were the norm in the early days of your relationship. But as time went on, hours of long free-flowing conversations became shorter and fewer and far between.
The Drift Of Communication
If this is the situation between you and your spouse, don’t freak out and think your relationship is dying. This drift into complacent cliche communication will happen to one degree or another the longer you and your spouse are together.
Why? The longer you’re together, the more you know about each other, and the less there is to get to know about each other. The result? There’s less to talk about! I’m not justifying the drift, but you need to understand more about why it happens so you can know how to resist it better.
The longer you’re together with your spouse, the more intentional you must be to pursue intimate conversation. If you leave authentic conversation to chance, there’s little chance it will happen.
See if you can relate to how the focus of the conversation with your spouse changes over time:
- Dating – About each other’s past
- Engaged – Wedding and Honeymoon
- Early years of marriage – Less past and more future (career, kids, home, everything about your new life together)
- 5+ Years of Marriage – Even less about the past and less about the future because the present starts to be consuming.
- 10+ Years of Marriage – The focus is on discussing the logistics of the present (kids, budget, responsibilities around the house, etc..). Most of each other’s past is already known, and there is little to no time to talk about the future because talking about the logistics of the present is now all-consuming.
This pattern will only continue unless you purpose to do two things differently:
- Create regular time to pursue ongoing authentic communication – Being known and getting to know your spouse is not something once done and forever accomplished. It’s an ongoing process that lasts a lifetime.
- Purpose to draw out your spouse’s thoughts and emotions about the present and the future – There needs to be a shift in the focus of your communication away from the past and towards the present and future. Don’t stop talking about the past, but try to spend more time talking about the present and future.
Notice the focus of these two statements is listening, not sharing.
Tedd Tripp puts it like this,
“The finest art of communication is not learning how to express your thoughts. It is learning how to draw out the thoughts of another.”
Here’s a list of questions to get you started drawing out the thoughts and emotions of your spouse about the present and the future (Thanks to Janel Breitenstein for a portion of these questions):
Don’t ask all of these at once, but rather pick one that stands out to get the conversation started.
- What can I do to cause you to feel more loved and cherished?
- What could I do to illustrate the fact that I respect you, your ideas, your role as my wife, and how
can I assure you that I hear you and understand what’s on your heart?
- What can I do to make you feel absolutely secure?
- What can I do to ensure that you have confidence and joy in our future direction?
- What attribute would you most like me to develop?
- What attribute would you like me to help you develop in yourself?
- What achievement in my life would bring you great joy?
- What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christlike?
- What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish?
- What’s one thing you love about our marriage?
- If you could only pick one thing, what would you change about our marriage?
- What’s one thing you love about our sex life?
- What one thing that you’d love for me to do more as your lover?
- What’s one of your best memories of us?
- Knowing what you do about our current financial situation—and without changing it—how do you feel about your budget? Does it work for you? Am I listening well to what you need?
- How well do I “see” you and what you carry daily? Do you feel acknowledged, heard, and received?
- If you could have more of one thing from me—time, sex, listening, help, you name it—what would it be?
- What’s one way I could do a better job caring for you?
- How can I pray for you?
- What’s God been teaching you lately?
- How was your day—really?
- What’s on your “bucket list”—you know, your list of things you’d like to do before you die?
- What can I do to ease your load today?
- Have you heard from your family lately? How are they doing?
- Can I tell you one thing that I’ve loved about you lately?
Hans co-founded Marriage Revolution with his wife, Star, in 2010. He counsels couples in The Woodlands, TX, speaks at marriage conferences around the country, and provides leadership and direction to Marriage Revolution.